Lesson Plan: The Great Depression: Part 1


Objectives: The students will

I. identify the causes of the Stock Market Crash.

II. describe how the Depression effected people's lives.

III. Summarize how the government responded to the Depression.

Warm Up Activity (Anticipatory Set): Defining the Term "Depression"

A) Place the following question on the board or overhead" What is meant by the term "Great Depression?"

B) Have students brainstorm a list of responses.

C) The list of topics can be organized into an idea web that the students can copy into their notes.

Idea Web for the Great Depression

 An idea web for the Great Depression
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress


D) Ask students what they THINK the government did or should have done to deal with the problems they listed.

E) Ask students if any of the problems that they listed are still experienced in today's modern economy.

F) Discuss the government's role in the functioning of the economy. Define the terms "Democrat" and "Republican" in the light of the discussion on government intervention in the economy.

G) Display the following images by clicking on the thumbnail below. Use your browser's back button to return to the this page.

H) Have students describe what they think is happening in the image. Have them apply the concepts they discussed in the idea web to the picture.

Choose a picture to discuss.

Images representing the Great Depression
Courtesy of Franklin Roosevelt Library

Main Activity (Instructional Input): Jigsaw Activity: The Causes of the Great Depression

A) Divide the class into groups of 3 or 4. Assign each group one or two questions and a set of vocabulary terms associated with that question.

B) Students should work together and agree on their responses within the research groups.

C) Once students have answered their questions and defined their terms, have the groups split into individual teachers or teaching pairs depending on the number of students and groups. Remind students they must have their texts open to the section that the student-teachers are reviewing. This will reduce the amount of repetition ion which the student-teachers must engage.

D) Once students have completed the worksheets through student led teaching sessions, review all the answers orally. Make sure that the group that worked on any given question does NOT give oral responses. That way, you can check to see how effectively the student-teaching groups relayed the information.

Chapter 27: The Great Depression Section 1 pp. 762-765

Jigsaw Questions

Answer the following questions within your groups. Make sure everyone agrees on the answer and has them written down on their own paper. Then share your answers with each other group in turn.

1) List two causes of the Stock Market Crash. How did people lose money by putting their money in the Stock Market?
Define "buying stock on margin."

2) List three major causes of the Great Depression and give one example within those three causes. Then define "durable goods."

3) How did banks lose the money that people put in them at the start of  the Great Depression? What is a "run on a bank"?

4) At the peak of the Depression, what percentage of working Americans was unemployed? 
List some of the emotional and social problems caused by unemployment in the lives of the people who lived through the Depression?

5) How did communities and cities respond to the large numbers of homeless and hungry? What is a "penny auction?"

6) What kinds of violence broke out because of the low farm prices?

7) How did people who became poor during the Depression cope with the problems presented by their poverty? What is a "migrant worker?"

8) Describe what a "Hooverville" is. Why is this the name they used and was it the right name in your opinion? What other terms were used that included President Hoover's name?

9) What was the "bonus army" and what did it do in 1932? How did Hoover respond to the Bonus Army? In your opinion, what should Hoover have done?

10) List the steps Hoover took to fight the Depression. Why did Hoover choose not to allow too strong a  government response to the economic problems of the nation? What did Hoover mean by the term "recovery is just around the corner?"

11) What do you think Franklin Roosevelt meant by his phrase "I pledge... a new deal for the American people." Why do you think the Democrats won the presidency and both houses of Congress in the election of 1932?

Examples (Modeling): Today's Stock Market

A) Copy one or more stocks from a recent newspaper.

B) Display the section on the overhead and outline how stock prices are read and what they mean.

C) Print a stock analysis from a popular company such as Microsoft, Coca-Cola, or AOL-Time-Warner.

D) Discuss the meaning of the stock's information and its trend. Compare today's stock market with that of the 1920s.

Check For Understanding: Writing A Speech

A) Have students pretend that they are at the Democratic Convention of 1932. They should imagine that each person is up for the Democratic nomination for president as FDR was at that time.

B) Each students should write a multi-paragraph speech that summarizes what he would do to fight the Depression. Have them identify bullet-points that evaluate the actions of the current president, Herbert Hoover.

C) Choose students to read their speeches aloud to the class.

Guided Practice: Skill Lab pg 771

A) Have students read the two sources under "Sources to Use" and print the answers provided by the author in the margin of pg 771 of the Teacher's edition. Mix the answers up and remove their A-B-C labels. Distribute these mixed up answers to students or display them on the overhead.

B) Students should match the answers with the questions after reading both sources, one that is positive regarding the effectiveness of FDR's New Deal and the other that is critical of it.

C) Students can write the answers out or paste them depending on the skill level of the students.

Homework (Independent Practice): Reading About the New Deal

A) Have students read section 2 of Chapter 27 entitled "The First New Deal" on pp 766-770.

B) Students should complete the Section Review at the end of the section on page 770.

Wrap-Up Activity (Closure): The Alphabet Soup of the New Deal

A) Have students create flash cards with the New Deal agencies, programs and laws on one side and what they did on the other.

B) Allow partner pairs to study for upcoming quiz using student-made flash cards.

Evaluation: The lesson will be evaluated by:

I. the accuracy of student's written responses;

II. student's scores on future tests and quizzes.


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